Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced this afternoon that a recent DNA test proved the Harrell was not the source of the biological evidence found in the 17 year old victim of the 1987 rape. Gramiccioni sad that Harrell’s conviction will be vacated.
Harrell was convicted on March 26, 1993 and released from prison in 1997. He turned 50 years old last week and is homeless, according the the New Jersey Sex Offenders Registry.
“This is wonderful news for Mr. Harrell and his family. Our goal as prosecutors is to see that justice is done. Mr. Harrell’s 1992 conviction was based upon the best evidence available at that time. Advancements in science have now provided evidence of Mr. Harrell’s innocence, and our duty to act is clear. Today, modern DNA technology has provided justice. We will be working collaboratively with Mr. Harrell’s attorneys at the Innocence Project in New York to take the necessary steps to vacate the 1992 conviction.” Gramiccioni said.
Harrell was 22 years old when the victim identified him as the man who raped her on the night of September 18, 1988. Despite providing an alibi, Harrell was convicted by a Monmouth County Jury based on the victim’s testimony and blood type evidence that could not exclude him as the rapist.
Judge Theodore J. Labrecque sentenced Harrell to eight years in prison. He was released after four years. The Sex Offender Registery lists Harrell as a moderate risk.
DNA evidence was first used in the United States in 1987, when a Florida man was convicted of Rape after DNA tests matched his blood sample with the semen traces recovered from a rape victim in Orange County, Florida. It wasn’t until after 1992 that the New Jersey State Police Forensics Laboratory started testing and utilizing DNA evidence for criminal prosecutions in New Jersey. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) forensic database was created in 1994, six years after the incident.